By Vish KhannaEarly reports about Atmosphere’s new record, When Life Gives You Lemons, You Paint That Shit Gold, suggested that Slug and Ant would explore the concept of fatherhood. An intriguing idea, but why would the Minneapolis duo focus on a dad’s life? "I’ll make it real simple; there’s a lot of rappers in my genre of hip-hop, and I fathered them all. No, I’m just kidding.” Slug chuckles. "Kinda. Kinda kidding.”
Revered and reviled for proudly possessing one of the biggest egos in hip-hop, Slug’s been an open book in Atmosphere, combining a startling storyteller’s gifts with an impeccable flow. Ant in turn has developed his own eclectic production style, not so much matching the mood of Slug’s narratives, but subtly accentuating it.
On Lemons, that familiar inwardness is tweaked; the music is dark and biting yet its first-person accounts about relationships convey more universalisms. In fact, the deluxe version of the album is constructed like a fairy tale for children, complete with the requisite illustrations, sharp plot twists, and moral conflicts and lessons.
Slug initially counters the "dark” tag, stating that Lemons is "pretty optimistic,” rather than gloomy. "I don’t feel that way either,” Ant says. "It was so fun to make that it wasn’t like some of our records in the past. I was depressed a lot of times when I’ve made certain kinds of music but I never felt that way doing this, so I’m kinda shocked when people say it sounds dark.”
"In my head, I feel like I was striving to offer as much resolution as I could in each song,” Slug adds. "Rather than just telling the story and offering the complaint, I also wanted to show that each story does have a means to an end or at least that there’s a reason to embrace that particular song.”